Open Standards

  • LibreOffice 24.2.4 now released

    Last week the blog of The Document Foundation (TDF) announced the release of LibreOffice 24.2.4, the latest point release of the office suite since its switch to the new version numbering system.

    LibreOffice logo

    The updated release is available for immediate download for all major operating systems, GNU/Linux, MacOS and Windows. It includes over 70 bug and regression fixes compared with LibreOffice 24.2.3 to improve the software’s stability.

    LibreOffice is the only office suite with a feature set comparable to – if not better* than – the ubiquitous and overpriced Microsoft Office suite.. It also offers a range of interface options to suit all user habits, from traditional to modern, and makes the most of different screen form factors by optimising the space available on the desktop to put the maximum number of features just a click or two away.

    See the LibreOffice wiki for the bug fixes implemented in RC1 and RC2.

    Finally, those who wish to support the work of The Document Foundation are invited to make a donation.

    * = Like direct export in the epub e-book file format, for example.

  • Schleswig-Holstein moves towards digital sovereignty

    The region of Schleswig-Holstein on the Jutland Peninsula is no stranger where matters of sovereignty are concerned.

    In the nineteenth century there was the Schleswig-Holstein Question, was a complex set of diplomatic and other issues arising in the 19th century from the relations of two duchies, Schleswig (Sønderjylland/Slesvig) and Holstein (Holsten), to the Danish Crown, to the German Confederation, and to each other.

    Coat of arms of Schleswig-HolsteinIn the twenty-first century digital sovereignty has become a matter of political importance to the north German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein.

    The blog of The Document Foundation reports today that, following a successful pilot project, the state has decided to move from Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office to Linux and LibreOffice (and other free and open source software) on the 30,000 PCs used by the state government.

    According to a statement by the Premier of Schleswig-Holstein, the components of its digitally sovereign workplaces are being based on a total of six project pillars:

    • Switching from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice;
    • Switching the operating system from Microsoft Windows to Linux;
    • Collaboration within the state government and with third parties: use of the open source products Nextcloud, Open Xchange/Thunderbird in conjunction with the Univention AD connector to replace Microsoft Sharepoint and Microsoft Exchange/Outlook;
    • Design of an open source-based directory service to replace Microsoft Active Directory;
    • Appraising specialist procedures with regard to compatibility and interoperability with LibreOffice and Linux; and
    • Development of an open source-based solution to replace Telekom-Flexport.

    The decision to switch office suites follows on from the finding by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) that the European Commission’s use of Microsoft 365 breaches European data protection law.

    According to Schleswig-Holstein’s Digitalisation Minister Dirk Schrödter, digital sovereignty is an integral part of the state government’s digital strategy and work programme. “This cannot be achieved with the current standard IT workstation products. We take digital sovereignty seriously and are moving forward: the decision to change office software is a milestone, but only the beginning of the change: the change to free software for the operating system, the collaboration platform, the directory service, specialist procedures and telephony will follow.”

  • Joint release of LibreOffice versions 24.2.2 & 7.6.6

    Yesterday the blog of The Document Foundation (TDF) announced the simultaneous release of two versions – 23.2.2 and 7.6.6 respectively of the LibreOffice productivity suite. Both releases bugs and regressions to improve quality and interoperability for individual productivity.

    LibreOffice 24.2 banner

    As usual LibreOffice 7.6.6 is an update to a release not at the project’s cutting edge, but is designed for more conservative users who don’t necessarily want – or need – the suite’s latest features.

    Both versions are now available for download. All LibreOffice users are encouraged to update their current version as soon as possible to take advantage of the improvements and bug fixes in the new releases. For those using proprietary operating systems, the minimum requirements are Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 and Apple MacOS 10.15.

    For business use, TDF strongly recommends the LibreOffice Enterprise family of applications from its partners with a wide range of dedicated value-added features and other benefits such as SLAs. Details here.

    LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support the work of The Document Foundation by making a donation to it.

  • Today is Document Freedom Day

    Today, 27th March is Document Freedom Day, which every year publicises and raises awareness of how open standards and open document formats enable us to read and write as we so wish.

    Document Freedom Day graphic

    Was there ever a time you were sent an important file that the software onyour computer couldn’t read properly? Do you remember having to purchase or download a new application just so you could open an attachment you needed for your work? The same thing happens tens of thousands of times every day. Can you imagine how much knowledge sharing doesn’t happen just because the sender and receiver – either intentionally or unintentionally – use different file formats? Incompatibilities like these are typically caused by secret (“closed”) and privately held (“proprietary”) file formats.

    Document Freedom Day is a chance to inform the world about open standards, which are crucial for the exchange of information, independence from software suppliers like the Beast of Redmond and to ensure long-term access to our data. LibreOffice – the office suite used and recommended by your ‘umble scribe – is a fine example of how to use open standards such as Open Document Format (ODF).

  • New user guides for LibreOffice Writer and Calc

    Last week The Document Foundation blog revealed that new guides have been produced for the latest 24.2 versions of Writer and Calc, LibreOffice‘s word processor and spreadsheet programs respectively.

    Graphic showing covers of new Writer and Calc guides

    The new guides are in essence updates of the guides produced for the preceding LibreOffice 7.6 guides.

    The Writer guide has been reviewed and updated by Jean Weber and has changed from being a single page document to a full-sized book. The latest Writer guide includes all these updates:

    • Comments can now use styles;
    • New features in the Navigator;
    • Save with password dialog now has a password strength meter;
    • Insert Special Characters dropdown now shows a character description;
    • Improved support for multi-page floating tables;
    • “Legal” ordered list numbering: make a given list level use Arabic numbering for all its numeric portions;
    • Miscellaneous changes in the names of some fields and buttons;
    • See the release notes for more changes.

    The Calc guide has been revised by Steve Fanning; it contains a description of the new features of Calc 24.2, the spreadsheet program of LibreOffice:

    • Live font preview when using the Font Name menus on the Properties deck of the Sidebar and on the Formatting toolbar;
    • Interactions to switch between sheets operate cyclically;
    • Option to view or hide column/row highlighting;
    • Additional metadata fields on the Description tab of the Properties dialog;
    • On Windows platforms, support for Alt+NumPad codes covering full Unicode range;
    • Text description of highlighted character on drop-down from Insert Special Characters toolbar icon;
    • Password strength meters for several dialogs;
    • Search field on Functions deck of Sidebar;
    • Support for FTP protocol removed from Hyperlink dialog;
    • Changes to auto-recovery and backup options;
    • Search function on Tools – Options dialogs;
    • Security warnings converted from dialogs to information bars;
    • Modify button renamed Assign on Customise dialog;
    • Language Settings menu of Tools – Options dialogs renamed to Languages and Locales.

    Besides those mentioned above, LibreOffice 24.2 also contains the following improvements:

    • New password-based ODF encryption that hides metadata better and is more resistant to tampering;
    • Clarification of macro security options to make it clear exactly what is allowed and what is not;
    • Accessibility improvements: and
    • Improvements in interoperability with Microsoft’s proprietary file formats.

    The Guides are available in PDF and ODF formats from the Libre Office bookshelf web page as well as print versions.

  • If you can’t contribute, donate!

    Yesterday the blog of The Document Foundation (TDF), the German non-profit organisation behind LibreOffice, published a post detailing how donations received during 2023 were used to continue development of the software and running the TDF and events

    The post included a handy graphic displaying the disbursement of funds visually, which is shown below.

    Graphic showing how donations were used in 2023
    Graphic courtesy of The Document Foundation
    Your ‘umble scribe would urge anyone who can to contribute their expertise, whether that’s writing or documentation, or helping to test pre-release versions; and if you can’t manage that, then donate! 😀
  • LibreOffice 24.2 released

    The blog of The Document Foundation (TDF), the German-based organisation behind the free and open source LibreOffice suite of productivity software, has today announced the release of LibreOffice 24.2 Community for all major operating systems – Linux. MacOS (Apple and Intel processors) and Windows (Intel, AMD and ARM processors). LibreOffice 24.2 banner

    This is LibreOffice’s first use the new calendar-based numbering scheme (YY.M) for releases, which it hoped will help users in keeping their LibreOffice installations up to date.

    New release highlights – general
    • Save AutoRecovery information is enabled by default, and is always creating backup copies. This reduces the risk of losing content for first-time users who are unfamiliar with LibreOffice settings.
    • Fixed various NotebookBar options, with many menu improvements, better print preview support, proper resetting of customised layout, and enhanced use of radio buttons. This improves the experience for users familiar with the Microsoft Office UI.
    • The Insert Special Character drop-down list now displays a character description for the selected character (and in the tooltip when you hover over it).
    • “Legal” ordered list numbering: make a given list level use Arabic numbering for all its numeric portions.
    • Comments can now use styles, with the Comment paragraph style being the default. This makes it easier to change the formatting of all comments at once, or to visually categorise different types of comments.
    • Improved various aspects of multi-page floating table support: overlap control, borders and footnotes, nesting, wrap on all pages, and related UI improvements.
    • A new search field has been added to the Functions sidebar deck.
    • The scientific number format is now supported and saved in ODF: embedded text (with number format like ###.000E0); lower case for exponent (with number format like ###.000e0); exponent with empty ‘?’ instead of ‘0’ (with number format like 0.00E+?0).
    • Highlight the Row and Column corresponding to the active cell.
    • The handling of small caps has been implemented for Impress.
    • Moved Presenter Console and Remote control settings from Tools > Options > LibreOffice Impress to Slide Show > Slide Show Settings, with improved labelling and dialogue layout.
    • Several improvements and fixes to templates: added and improved placement of various placeholders; fixed order of slides; made fonts and formatting consistent; fixed styles and their hierarchy; improved ODF compliance; made it easier to use templates in languages other than English; fixed use of wrong fonts for CJK and CTL.
    • Several significant improvements to the handling of mouse positions and the presentation of dialogue boxes via the Accessibility APIs, allowing screen readers to present them correctly.
    • Improved management of IAccessible2 roles and text/object attributes, allowing screen readers to present them correctly.
    • Status bars in dialogue boxes are reported with the correct accessible role so that screen readers can find and report them appropriately, while checkboxes in dialogue boxes can be toggled using the space bar.
    • The Save with Password dialogue box now has a password strength meter. This uses zxcvbn-c to determine the password strength.
    • New password-based ODF encryption that performs better, hides metadata better, and is more resistant to tampering and brute force.
    • Clarification of the text in the options dialogue box around the macro security settings, so that it is clear exactly what is allowed and what is not.

    A full description of all the new features can be found in the release notes.

    Contributors to LibreOffice 24.2 Community

    There are 166 contributors to the new features of LibreOffice 24.2 Community: 57% of code commits come from the 50 developers employed by three companies on the TDF Advisory Board – Collabora, allotropia and Red Hat – or other organisations, 20% from 8 developers at The Document Foundation; the remaining 23% originated from 108 individual volunteers.

    An additional 159 volunteers have committed to localisation in 160 languages, representing hundreds of people providing translations. LibreOffice 24.2 Community is available in 120 languages, more than any other desktop software, making it available to over 5.5 billion people worldwide in their native language. In addition, over 2.4 billion people speak one of these 120 languages as a second language.

    Interoperability with Microsoft Office

    LibreOffice 24.2 offers a number of improvements and new features aimed at users who share documents with or migrate from MS Office A few of the most significant improvements are as follows:

    • Writer: improved first page headers/footers OOXML import by using the first page property in the existing page style instead of creating a new page style just for the first page.
    • Writer: templates optimised for Japanese text added to the Localisation category to improve interoperability with Microsoft Word for Japanese users.
    • Writer: import of “drawing canvas” from DOCX documents, with connectors no longer imported as simple shapes but as true connectors, primitive shapes like ellipses imported as OOXML shapes (text inside the shape can now wrap), and multicolour gradients, theme colours and glow effects for shapes.
    • OOXML: support for the SVG OOXML extension, which imports the SVG image (svgBlip element) instead of the fallback PNG, and exports the SVG image in addition to the fallback PNG image used when the svgBlip element is not supported (older MS Office versions).

    Download LibreOffice 24.2.

    Your ‘umble scribe is not using the latest official release, but an as-yet unreleased development version. If you would like to help out with LibreOffice testing and development, visit the pre-release versions server and download a development package for your particular operating system.

  • LibreOffice Nepalese Localisation Sprint

    Language localisation is the process of adapting a product’s translation to a specific country or region. It forms the second phase of a larger process of product translation and cultural adaptation (for specific countries, regions, cultures or groups) to account for differences in distinct markets, a process known as internationalisation and localisation.

    The Document Foundation blog today reports on the Localisation Sprint held in October and November by the LibreOffice Nepali community in October and November, which bore the tagline “Unlock Native: LibreOffice Speaks Nepali“.

    LibreOffice Nepalese localisation sprint participants
    Image courtesy of The Document Foundation blog.

    The sprint was mentored by localisation expert Saroj Dhakal, Suraj Bhattarai, LibreOffice’s liaison officer and Kathmandu University engineering student Aadarsha Dhakal. Kkey open source community and student clubs from different part of Nepal were invited and the invitation was generously accepted by AskBuddie, Kathmandu University Open Source Community (KUOSC), Birendra Open Source Club (BOSC), and Nepal Open Source Klub (NOSK). Furthermore, many volunteers came forward and expressed their willingness to join in and contribute to the LibreOffice project.

    As many of the volunteers were new to the process, mentors made participants familiar with the localisation process in our tools, with a quick demonstration on how to proceed with strings, checks and different glossary terms.

    Due to major festivities there was a 19 day gap in the sprint, which eventually ended in November (making it the third longest ever Nepalese localisation event. Ed.) after several thousand strings had been localised. Well done all in Nepal!

  • LibreOffice news – a beta and a pledge

    Yesterday saw the release of the first beta version of LibreOffice 24.2, the forthcoming next version of this popular free and open source office suite, which is due for release on February 2024, as announced on the LibreOffice QA blog.

    LibreOffice about window

    Your ‘umble scribe has already downloaded the beta from the development builds server for testing. So far it’s working well with my usual suite of extensions, which extend the software’s functionality.

    If anything untoward occurs with the beta, then a bug report will be filed.

    Meanwhile, in the boardroom…

    Away from coding, news has arrived that elections are to be held soon for the Board of The Document Foundation (TDF), the German-based non-profit organisation behind LibreOffice.

    Eleven member of the LibreOffice community are standing as candidates with a joint Pledge (our promise) to the LibreOffice community. It’s not just a positive vision of the future, but includes immediate action points that we can take to fix TDF from the outset.

    The eleven are Sophie Gautier, Eliane Domingos, Osvaldo Gervasi, Paolo Vecchi, Jean-Baptiste Faure, Franklin Weng, Daniel Rodriguez, Mike Saunders, me (Andreas Mantke), Jean-François Nifenecker and Enio Gemmo.

    The eleven candidates for the TDF board

    The full English text of the Pledge is reproduced below, in addition to which it has been translated into the following languages:

    The Pledge itself reads as follows verbatim:

    Our main promises to you

    We will bring back tenders.

    • We will implement tenders in a way that allows more companies to participate.
    • Having only very few and always the same bidders is not sustainable. We will bring a tender process that creates a welcoming environment for all potential bidders. We will create opportunities for everyone, from single developers to large organisations.
    • We will hear the valuable input from the Engineering Steering Committee on the important projects and will make them a reality.
    • We will work together with the valuable companies from the ecosystem, existing and new ones. Together we will achieve something good for LibreOffice and for everyone involved.

    We will be an open and transparent board from day one. We are accountable to all of you. We will not act as a closed group.

    • We will have no private board meetings, unless it is absolutely necessary. With very little room for exceptions, there will be only public meetings with a proper agenda and proper minutes that we share in time.
    • Board meetings will be at different times. We want that all community members have a chance to join, especially those who cannot participate during working hours.
    • There will be fewer, but much more effective meetings. We will focus on strategy, not on day-to-day micromanagement. Meetings every two weeks hardly work for volunteers. A lot more responsibility for everyday business can be laid in the hands of the team.
    • We promise monthly public status reports to show what the board is working on. They will be translated into many languages. We encourage and take feedback from the worldwide community to the heart. You are experts in your fields and we listen to you.
    • We will install a liquid democracy system as proper tooling for direct community participation in the foundation’s decisions.

    We will break the language barriers. English is not a requirement to participate any more.

    • We will make sure agenda and minutes for board meetings will be translated into many languages.
    • If English is used, we will use “simple plain English”, so more people can understand.
    • We promise monthly public calls with the native language community. We want to hear from you and support your activities.
    • For these calls, we will ask community members to help with live translation, so all community members can participate.
    • We will host at least one of the next two official LibreOffice Conferences out of Europe, e.g. in South America or Asia.

    We will value all contributors equally.

    • Developers and non-developers, volunteers, company employees and TDF’s team, we are all one, respectable community.
    • Nobody should be discriminated for their role. Nobody should be scared to speak out in public.
    • We will credit contributors publicly.
    • Nobody should feel like “second class” community members any more.
    We also promise you this

    We will make TDF recognized.

    • We will work hard to have TDF be recognized worldwide at governmental level and within the European Union. We will start to actively contact them as a non-profit foundation.
    • As one of the leading foundations, TDF must “sit at the table” in standards bodies and when important legislative decisions are taken. We must be seen as a trustworthy reference point of contact for office productivity.

    We will actively grow the ecosystem.

    • We will create incentives for current and new companies working with LibreOffice.
    • We will support them to enter the market.
    • Our goal is to have at least two independent companies joining the market in the next two years and many new products based on LibreOffice Technology.
    • We will not only aim at direct code contributions, but also ease of use, accessibility and documentation. There will be many more companies that can bid on tenders for work that was underloved for some time.
    • We will evaluate the hiring of an independent business partner manager, with a proper mission to achieve this goal and be accountable.
    • We will work with the ecosystem on solutions for online and mobile versions of LibreOffice, that benefit both the companies and the community.

    We will make development more fun and support our fantastic developer community.

    • We will support the community to organize more Hackfests again, ideally in different countries.
    • We will offer the developer community to evaluate new and more modern development tools that could make hacking on LibreOffice more exciting and more fun. We will let the developers independently voice what is best for LibreOffice and we are committed to invest in areas important for our developer community.
    • We will evaluate to hire one or more developers to fix the most reported bugs from the community and grow the code contributions from the foundation itself. This makes us a better free software and open source citizen.
    • We will develop a strategic development plan for the next 24 months, with measurable goals and milestones.
    • We will seek funding to implement, directly or through partners, features and improvements that would make a difference to many people and uses.
    How we will achieve our goals

    Promises are easy to make. Here is our plan how to make them a reality:

    Legal issues have been in the way for several years now. If we work together with shared goals in mind, seriously take into account our legal counsels’ advise, we can very soon focus again on actual and important projects that are not getting done right now, because too much time is spent with fights and discussions.

    We have experts in many fields in our community, in the companies and in our team – let’s source their knowledge and their passion for LibreOffice! We will encourage everyone to speak out, contribute their knowledge and bring in their unique skills and talent. We will work with trust, respect and mutual appreciation, to achieve the best for TDF.

    Good ideas need space to develop and unfold. Only then we can bring the office suite to a new threshold of effectiveness, user friendliness and only then we can evaluate new technologies for incorporation into LibreOffice.

    We will also encourage everyone to work much more with other free and open source communities or civil society organizations, to widen their horizon, contribute something good to the world and also learn what challenges others face and how they deal with them.

    Conflicts of Interest

    One of the main challenges in the past board term was conflict of interest. We don’t want endless discussions, we will implement the solution.

    Some of us are members of the team and get paid by TDF, others are working for companies that make business with LibreOffice. We know that there is no difficulty left if people with conflicts of interest are barred from being near decision making. And therefore we hereby promise and guarantee that we will keep out of all decisions and also discussions that could affect our own personal interests, and that we will declare these interests regularly.

    Board members who are also team members will work on board matters in their spare time. All board members will follow the existing conflict of interest policy and keep out from any discussion and any decision that could create a conflict of interest for them.

    Our goal is to “prevent possible conflicts of interest within the foundation” as laid down in the statutes and set a standard to follow.

    The Document Foundation has been built by the community, for the community. We are members of the community who want to run for the next election of the board, to bring TDF back to its golden times – with a happy community, working together creatively, inspiring each other, where everyone has a place to contribute to our common goal.

  • LibreOffice 24.2 alpha released for testing

    According to the release plan, Libre Office 24.2*, the next version of the leading free and open source office suite, will be released at the start of February 2024, according to the LibreOffice QA blog.

    This new version’s development started in the middle of June earlier this year. Since development of 24.2 began, Since then, 4271 commits have been submitted to the code repository and more than 787 bugs had been fixed, according to the release notes.

    Screenshot of LibreOffice 24.2 alpha

    LibreOffice 24.2 Alpha1 can now be downloaded for Linux, macOS and Windows. In addition, it can be installed alongside the standard version. LibreOffice extensions, which increase the functionality of the suite, can also be installed in the new alpha. Your correspondent can report all his favourite extensions installed properly and are working as they should with the new alpha release.

    LibreOffice 24.2 about panel

    The QA blog post advises users who find any bugs to report them in Bugzilla. The only requirement needed to file a bug report is legitimate email address account in order to create a new account.

    As LibreOffice is a volunteer-driven community project all testing is appreciated. Your ‘umble scribe’s testing to date has been uneventful. 😀

    * = The Document Foundation has changed the manner in which it numbers releases; 24.2 will be the first new release under the new year and month numbering system.

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